Archive for November, 2016

Spontonality!

Monday, November 28th, 2016

One my most satisfying, profound and just downright musical improvisation experiences ever has been with a group named Spontonality that was dreamed up with old friend Tim West, who then organised it with creativity and flair so five of us ended up in the most beautiful place imaginable for an impro week in Cornwall – Kestle Barton studios. We explored all the possible different combinations of the five of us – all the solos, duos, trios and quartets, with Tim on piano, Tony woods on saxes, Julian Bliss on clarinets, and Torbjorn Hultmark on trumpet/soprano trombone/electronics/bird noises/shouting/coffee mug and chair. There were moments of sublime magic, utter madness, serene happiness, funk/12tone/free jazz and everything in between. Here is the last 10′ of the week on soundcloud if you want a listen – and let me know what you think.

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A Love Affair Continues…

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

Yes, I really do love India! The colours, the food, the history, the smiles, the languages, the religions, the light and the darkness, and, of course, the music. My first trip there was in the early ‘90s when a 5-week tour with the British Council and a small chamber group exploded into my young consciousness. I came back with a huge haul of cassettes to listen to, and that was when the love affair began. I have worked with many Indian musicians since, the most rewarding and exciting certainly being a collaboration that began with sarod-master Ustad Amjad Ali Khan in 2000 in the Royal Festival Hall. This continued with many concerts in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and India, often including his sons, Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan.

In September I was back in the Royal Festival Hall for the latest chapter of this musical journey for a performance in the Darbar Festival, with 4 musicians from the Philharmonia Orchestra and Niladri Kumar (sitar), Rakesh Chaurasia (bansuri – wooden flute), Jayanthi Kumaresh (saraswati veena) and Ghatam Karthick (ghatam – the clay pot): 4 of the most exceptionally talented of the younger generation of Indian classical musicians, making a name for themselves worldwide.

In 2015, when this project began to brew, I started thinking about the way to make a meaningful meeting between the two greatest classical traditions in the world – those of Europe and India – and thought that the creation, as well as the performance of the music had to be shared between east and west. Often it is the case that Indian musicians have provided musical material, and western musicians have arranged it for orchestra or other ensemble and I have often been disappointed with the results. So I called old friend and running-mate Fraser Trainer, with whom I have done a huge number of creative projects around the world and we began to collect ideas and ingredients.

The recipe we hit upon began with a visit to India (see previous blog) with the Philharmonia musicians, meeting the instrumentalists we were to eventually work with, and playing together, sometimes improvising, sometimes learning their melodies and rhythms, and sometimes sharing some of our music. We made really good connections there, and Fraser started to collect material for our final piece. Over the next year or so, there was a lot of communication between us all by email, skype and file sharing; Fraser and I bashed out a structure for the piece, and slowly a kind of skeleton for the piece emerged. I would say that we started with about 15’ of music already composed, and then during a 5-day rehearsal period leading to the concert we added lots of musical flesh, and ended with a piece of nearly an hour. That final week had been very intense, but full of a wonderful sense of co-creation, and lots of laughter and discovery. The concert itself was one of the most excting I have taken part in – in many ways it was the fruit of 20 years of searching and thinking and collaborating and I was extremely proud of the result. Two reviews here and here sum it up well.

Here’s hoping there are many more chapters to come.

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